Singapore is generally a free port and an open economy. More than 99% of all imports into Singapore enter the country duty-free. For social and/or environmental reasons, Singapore levies high excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor, tobacco products, motor vehicles and petroleum products.
Singapore levies a 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST). For dutiable goods, the taxable value for GST is calculated based on the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) value plus all duties and other charges. In the case of non-dutiable foods, GST will be based on the CIF value plus any commission and other incidental charges whether or not shown on the invoice. If the goods are dutiable, the GST will be collected simultaneously with the duties. Special provisions pertain to goods stored in licensed warehouses and free trade zones. See http://www.iras.gov.sg and http://www.customs.gov.sg
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Comptroller of Goods & Service Tax
55 Newton Road
Tel: (65) 65/1800-356 8633 (General Helpline)
Fax: (65) 6351-3553
Ø TRADE BARRIERS
Singapore maintains one of the most liberal trading regimes in the world, but U.S. companies face several trade barriers. Services barriers include sectors such as pay TV, basic telecommunications, audiovisual and media services, legal services, banking and education. Singapore also maintains a tiered motorcycle operator licensing system based on engine displacement, which, along with a road tax based on engine size, places U.S. exports of large motorcycles at a competitive disadvantage. Details can be found in the USTR Report on Foreign Trade Barriers that is available on-line at http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/reports-and-publications/2011-0.
Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) tests every imported shipment of meat and poultry and does not accept raw and uncooked poultry and meat products that contain salmonella bacteria that exceed AVA’s unrealistic microbiological standards. This is not scientifically justifiable and has posed some difficulties for U.S. exporters. Details can be found at http://www.ava.gov.sg/FoodSector/FoodTestingAndCertification/ExportHealthCertMeatFishDairyProd/
After the discovery of BSE in the United States in December 2003, Singapore banned imports of all U.S. beef products, offals and variety meats. In January 2006, Singapore re-opened its markets to only U.S. boneless beef from animals under 30 months of age. Current World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for BSE allow for the full range of beef and beef products from animals of any age and from countries categorized as controlled risk status for BSE. The United States was officially categorized by the OIE as “controlled risk” for BSE in 2007. The United States continues to press Singapore to make science-based decisions based OIE guidelines, which allow for the full-range of beef and beef products from animals of any age.
The FTA that the U.S. signed with Singapore in 2004 allows the importation of chewing gum with therapeutic value for sale, subject to certain requirements. Previously, there was a blanket ban on all types of chewing gum.
Companies must make an inward declaration for all goods imported into Singapore. All imports require an import permit although this is largely a statistical requirement for most goods. Details can be found at http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trad/Permits+and+Documentation.htm
Bona Fide Trade Samples
Import of trade samples for which the total value is below US$320 (S$400) is not subject to payment of duty and/or GST. In addition, no permit is required for their import. Bona fide trade samples (excluding liquors and tobacco) may be imported if they are imported solely for the purpose of soliciting orders for goods to be supplied from abroad, for demonstration in Singapore to enable manufacturers in Singapore to produce such articles to fulfill orders from abroad or by a manufacturer for the purpose of copying, testing or experimenting before they produce such articles in Singapore. More information can be found at
Medical and Medicinal Products Import Regulations
All medical and medicinal products, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals imported or sold in Singapore are required to be licensed by the Health Sciences Authority. The onus of applying for a product license rests with the license holder, i.e., a locally registered company that is responsible for the safety, quality and efficacy of the product. If U.S. companies have concerns regarding product licensing, they should contact the Health Sciences Authority (http://www.hsa.gov.sg) or ask a potential distributor to submit samples to the Health Sciences Authority.
Companies wanting to export controlled items to Singapore must apply for licenses from the appropriate government agencies in the United States. U.S. goods being re-exported from intermediary consignees in Singapore to ultimate consignees in third countries require specific licensing. Singapore is a major transshipment hub for the Asian market. While many items may not initially require an export license, exporters need to be aware that two-thirds of items exported to Singapore are re-exported to third countries that may have more stringent licensing requirements that require additional export licenses. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which regulate the export and re-export of certain commercial items while other U.S government agencies regulate more specialized exports.
For example, the U.S. Department of State has authority over defense articles and defense services. A list of agencies involved in export controls can be found at www.bis.doc.gov or in Supplement No. 3 Part 730 of the EAR which is available on the Government Printing Office Website, www.gpo.gov
Goods may be temporarily imported under the Temporary Import Scheme for the purpose of repairs, displays, exhibitions or other similar events without the payment of duty and/or GST. A banker’s guarantee is required under the Temporary Import Scheme. The temporary imports are covered by a Customs Inward Permit or a Carnet. Goods temporarily imported must be re-exported within the prescribed period using a Customs Outward permit. GST has to be paid if the goods are not subsequently re-exported. The procedures governing such importation can be found at http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trad/cus/Temporary+Import+Scheme.htm.
Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) Carnet
A foreign exhibitor may import exhibition goods into Singapore using an ATA carnet. When the exhibitor arrives in Singapore the carnet must be produced together with the goods to Customs at the entry point for verification and endorsement. When goods covered by a carnet are taken out of Singapore, the foreign exhibitor must produce the carnet together with the goods to Customs at the exit point for verification and endorsement. GST will be recovered from the carnet holder on any item that is unaccounted for. For more information on Temporary Importation for Exhibition, Auction & Fairs or Temporary Import Scheme, please contact the following or visit http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trad/imp/Temporary+Importation+for+Exhibitions+Auctions+and+Fairs.htm
Labels are required on imported food, drugs, liquors, paints and solvents and must specify the country of origin.
A food label should contain core information such as the prescribed food name, list of ingredients, mandatory warning, advisory statements or allergens declarations, net weight or volume, date mark, nutritional information panel, instructions for use or storage, country of origin, the name and address of the business and manufacturer and importer. Repackaged foods must be labeled to show (in English) the appropriate designation of food content printed in capital letters at least 1/16 inch high; whether foods are compounded, mixed or blended; the minimum quantity stated in metric net weight or measure; the name and address of the manufacturer or seller; and the country of origin. Illustrations must accurately describe the true nature or origin of the food. Foods having defined standards must be labeled to conform to those standards and be free from added foreign substances. Packages of food described as “enriched”, “fortified”, “vitaminized” or in any other way that implies that the article contains added vitamins or minerals must show the quantity of vitamins or minerals added per metric unit.
There are two levels of labeling requirements for medicinal products. Administrative labeling requirements are not statutory requirements and are specified in the Health Sciences Authority’s Guidance on Medicinal Product Registration in Singapore. Compliance is checked during the product registration process, prior to granting of marketing approval. For legal labeling requirements, these are stipulated in the legislation related to medicinal products regulation in Singapore and are subject to the Health Sciences Authority’s surveillance program. The labeling requirements include the name of the active ingredient, quantitative particulars, product license number and name and address of the dealer. More information may be obtained at http://www.hsa.gov.sg/publish/content/hsaportal/en/health_products_regulation.html
Labeling and advertising legislation also applies to the sale of vitamins and dietary supplements. Generally, labeling laws required that: 1) the composition of the products is disclosed in English, 2) labels/packaging materials not contain any references to diseases/conditions as specified in the schedule to the Medicines (Advertisement & Sale) Act (http://agcvldb4.agc.gov.sg/); and 3) the advertising/sale promotion of the product in the public media be approved by the Health Sciences Authority.
Special import licenses are required for certain goods, including strategic items, hazardous chemicals, films and videos, arms and ammunition, agricultural biotechnology products, food derived from agricultural biotechnology products, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins with very high dosages of certain nutrients, and cosmetics and skin care products. The import of such items such as lighters in the shape of pistols or revolvers, firecrackers, handcuffs, shell casings, and silencers is prohibited.
Generally, the import of goods that the government determines as posing a threat to health, security, safety and social decency is controlled. A full list of prohibited products and controlled goods and their corresponding controlling agencies can be obtained from the Singapore Customs website, http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trav/dut/Controlled+Goods.htm
Companies must make an outward declaration to export or re-export goods out of Singapore. Selected items are subjected to controls on exports of goods from Singapore. Items such as rubber, timber, granite, satellite dishes and receivers, and chlorofluorocarbons are subjected to export control and licensing. Items under export control must be endorsed or licensed by the appropriate government agencies before they can be exported. More information may be obtained at http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trad/imp/Goods+Subject+to+Control.htm
The Strategic Trade Scheme (STS) is an enhanced permit regime that seeks to promote permit regime that seeks to promote effective internal export control compliance and provide legitimate traders with greater facilitation in permit declarations involving transactions of strategic goods for non-WMD related end-use. The STS comprises 3 tiers whereby the level of facilitation and flexibility accorded to a company will be contingent upon their quality of internal export control compliance program. More information may be obtained at http://www.customs.gov.sg/stgc/leftNav/per/Strategic+Trade+Scheme+%28STS%29.htm.
In Singapore valuation for customs purposes is based on the Customs Valuation Code (CVC). The primary basis for Customs value is the transaction value of the imported goods when sold for export to Singapore. Where goods are dutiable ad valorem or specific rates may be applied. An ad valorem rate, which is most commonly applied, is a percentage of the Customs value of the imported goods. A specific rate is a specified amount per unit of weight of other quantity.
Cost, insurance, freight, handling charges and all other charges incidental to the sale and delivery of the goods are taken into account when the duty is assessed. Exporters are required to ensure that the declared values of goods have not been undervalued or the Customs and Excise Department will increase the values declared. Severe penalties may be imposed on traders attempting to evade duty.
Free Trade Zone/Warehouses
Singapore has three Free Trade Zones (FTZ) authorities namely PSA Corporation Ltd, Jurong Port Pte Ltd and the Changi Airport Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd. The eight FTZs are Brani Terminal, Keppel Distripark, Pasir Panjang Terminal, Sembawang Wharves, Tanjong Pagar Terminal, Keppel Terminal, Jurong Port, Airport Logistics Park of Singapore and the Changi Airport Cargo Terminal Complex. They provide a wide range of facilities and services for storage and re-export of dutiable and controlled goods. Goods can be stored within the zones without any customs documentation until they are released in the market and they can also be processed and re-exported with minimum customs formalities. More information can be found at
GST is suspended for imported goods deposited in a FTZ and will only be payable upon removal from the FTZ for local consumption. GST is not payable on supply made in FTZ if the goods supplied are meant for transshipment or re-export.
The FTZs at the port facilitate entrepot trade and promote the handling of transshipment cargo. They offer free 72-hour storage for import/export of conventional and containerized cargo and 140-day free storage for transshipment/re-export cargo.
There are many warehouse space options available in Singapore. Some of the more popular ones are located close to the port and within easy reach of the airport and the Jurong industrial hub. These include the Tanjong Pagar, Alexandra and Pasir Panjang Distriparks which are home to many established multinationals. The distriparks, in varying designs and size, cater to Central Distribution Center operators, manufacturers, traders, freight forwarders and others. http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trad/dir/Licensed+Premises+for+Zero+GST+Goods.htm
As the national standards and accreditation body, SPRING develops and promotes internationally-recognized quality and standards infrastructure to enhance competitiveness and facilitate trade. To do this, SPRING’s strategies are to:
At the policy level, SPRING represents Singapore in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-Committee on Standards & Conformance (SCSC), the ASEAN Consultative Committee for Standards & Quality (ACCSQ) and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).
SPRING is Singapore’s representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Singapore is also a member of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) through the Singapore National Committee of the IEC.
Singapore’s national standardization program is administered by SPRING Singapore. It establishes and publishes Singapore Standards by publication in the Government Gazette.
SPRING brings together representatives from industries, government agencies and academic institutions to enhance enterprise competitive and facilitate trade through standards. Where applicable, Singapore Standards are aligned to international standards to help ease entry into overseas markets for Singapore exports and lower technical barriers to trade.
SPRING helps to promote industry awareness and use of Singapore Standards and relevant international standards.
NIST Notify U.S. Service
Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Register online at Internet URL: http://www.nist.gov/notifyus/
A list of conformity assessment bodies accredited by the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) may be found here: http://www.sac-accreditation.gov.sg/directory.asp
A list of the designated product certification bodies for the Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Registration Scheme (CPS Scheme) administered by SPRING can be found here: http://www.spring.gov.sg/qualitystandards/cps/pages/conformity-assessment-information.aspx
Besides being the national standards body in Singapore, SPRING also manages the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC), the national accreditation body. The SAC's primary function is to accredit conformity assessment bodies based on international standards.
Accreditation is an endorsement of an organization's competence, credibility, independence and integrity in carrying out its conformity assessment activities. This endorsement is manifested in the use of the SAC accreditation marks in the issuing of endorsed test/calibration/inspection reports or accredited certificates by its accredited organizations.
The Singapore Accreditation Council currently operates accreditation programs in the following areas:
On October 2010, the SAC was formally recognised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the ENERGY STAR Program.
More information is available on the website: http://www.sac-accreditation.gov.sg.
The Singapore Accreditation Council has signed a number of multilateral mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs/MLAs). These include:
In addition, SPRING is also the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Compliance Monitoring Authority in Singapore. In Jan 2010, Singapore became a Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) adherent member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This means that GLP studies conducted in Singapore for the health and safety assessment of chemicals will be accepted in more than 30 OECD and non-OECD member countries.
Singapore became the first country in Asia, and the third in the world (after the European Union and Canada), to operate a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on telecom equipment certification with the U.S. The MRA provides for direct entry of telecommunications into either market without the need for additional testing and certification. Under the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Telecommunications MRA implemented between the U.S. and Singapore, products can be tested and certified in the United States for conformance with Singapore's technical requirements. A list of the recognized U.S. testing and certification agencies can be found at: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Policies%20and%20Regulation/20060609145118.aspx.
The Singapore Standards eShop offers Singapore Standards and Technical References for sale. Singapore Standards are nationally recognized documents, established by consensus. They are functional or technical requirements in the form of specifications for materials, product system or process, codes of practice, methods of test, terminologies, and guides etc.
Technical References (TR) are transition documents developed to help meet urgent industry demand for specifications or requirements on a particular product, process or service in an area where there is an absence of reference standards. Unlike Singapore Standards, TRs are not gazetted and are issued without going through the full consensus process. They are pre-standards 'tested' over two years before assessment on their suitability for approval as Singapore Standards. TRs can, therefore, become Singapore Standards after two years, continue as Technical References for further comments, or be withdrawn.
SPRING has appointed Toppan Leefung Pte. Ltd. to manage the sale of the Singapore Standards and Technical References, as well as international and overseas standards that SPRING is permitted to sell in Singapore. Toppan Leefung’s contact details are:
Toppan Leefung Pte. Ltd.
1 Kim Seng Promenade #18-01
Great World City East Tower
Mon to Fri: 9.30am to 6.00pm
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
Customer Service Hotline: + (65) 6826 9691
Fax: + (65) 6820 3341
Singapore Standards eShop: http://www.singaporestandardseshop.sg
Labeling and Marking
The “SAFETY Mark” is given by SPRING for all registered controlled goods. The “SAFETY Mark” helps consumers and traders to identify registered controlled goods. All registered controlled goods must be individually marked with the “SAFETY Mark” either on the product or packaging. The “SAFETY Mark” comprises a "safety logo" enclosed in a square on the left and the words "SAFETY MARK" within a rectangle on the right. Below these is a unique 8-digit registration number traceable to the registrant and the registered models.
U.S. suppliers (or their local representative) of controlled products planning to expand sales into Singapore should check with SPRING or other relevant regulatory authorities before exporting.
Telecommunication equipment imported for use in Singapore is subject to “Type Approval” by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. More information can be obtained from the website: http://www.ida.gov.sg.
For the construction industry, the Building and Construction Authority uses the Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) to objectively rate building works. Details are available at the website: http://www.bca.gov.sg
As a nation with a small domestic market that depends on imports for food, energy and industrial raw materials, Singapore places the highest priority on the multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO). As a member of the WTO, Singapore believes that the WTO can provide a stable framework for developing sound multilateral rules that ensure that goods and services can flow freely with minimum impediment. The primary objective of Singapore’s trade policy is to guard its trading interest by ensuring a free and open international trading environment.
In tandem with its support of the WTO, Singapore advocates that trade efforts are undertaken in the regional context such as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) as well as bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to accelerate the momentum of trade liberalization and strengthen the multilateral trading system. It has actively pursued a number of legally binding arrangements with trading partners. ASEAN is preparing a roadmap for an ASEAN Economic Community by 2020 that aims to create a single enlarged market of 550 million people.
Singapore has concluded FTAs with the United States, ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway & Iceland, Gulf Cooperation Council, Panama, Peru and with Brunei, Chile and New Zealand under the Trans-Pacific SEP (Strategic Economic Partnership) Agreement. FTA negotiations are ongoing with Canada, Mexico, Pakistan and the Ukraine. For more information, please visit http://www.iesingapore.gov.sg or http://www.fta.gov.sg